Flushing out the Special Branch

 

 

Readers of this blog will know that my basic premise is that , my parents’ murders included, the State permitted or acquiesced in the deaths of its citizens “for the greater good”.

Let me again follow the logic.

You are a handler. Your tout/informer/agent-it matters not on the nomenclature, has risen to an important role within PIRA. He is part of the targeting, planning and execution process. He is telling you who are in the ASUs, who the Quartermaster is, where the explosives are stored and who is making the bombs.  If you act on this information, you could disrupt activity by seizing the Semtex. You will have no evidence to put before a court , because the Supergrass system has been discredited and in any event your informer is unwilling to give evidence.

Alternatively, you could act to thwart the operations that your informer tells you about. After a few failures, PIRA are going to put two and two together and that’s the end of your informer.

So , in the grand scheme, some attacks have to get through.

A value judgement has to be made. Who do we sacrifice “for the greater good”?

Not Bobby Carswell, Jeffrey Donaldson, Gerry Adams, Brian Gillen or …

 

As the former head of MI5 said, life can be messy.

Some unimportant people have to be sacrificed to protect the informer. The higher up in the chain of command is the informer, the greater the ‘product’ and the greater the need to protect him.

That’s my theory, Dear Reader. So let’s test some aspects of it.

What rules applied to RUC Special Branch prior to 2000?

Let’s get it from the horse’s mouth. After my last blog was republished on a site called Expose the Republican Narrative a contributor , calling himself “Angus McTavish” offered a riposte.

I have found out  who this person is, but I’m going to call him, for the purposes of debate “Jonty”.

Jonty has taken the time to offer rebuttal to most of my points, though he fails  to recognise some tongue in cheek humour. But never mind.

He does , however , provide a window into the world of Special Branch, which he says he inhabited for a quarter of a century.

This is what he says about the rules.

 

“De Siva
4.5 – at the risk of repeating myself, De Silva seems to recognise a fact that has escaped the attention of both Nuala O’Loan and Michael Maguire, when they fail to recognise sufficiently, that intelligence agents, in order to operate as agents, must show support for the aims and objectives of their terrorist grouping. Furthermore, they must, if they are to be trusted within that group, carry out at least some actions which could be described as terrorist activity. Prior to RIPA (2000), this tactical imperative was conducted under the broad scope of agent handling tradecraft and regulated by the oversight of senior officers within RUCSB. It is recognised under RIPA (2000) as legal, justified and necessary deployment of CHIS/agents/touts, call them what you will. “

 

 

He goes on:

 

  • Informers/handlers were allowed to commit crimes, including murder – “In the pursuance of a goal of public safety, agents were indeed permitted by handlers to support terrorist groups and even on occasions to engage in criminal activity on their behalf. This behaviour was neither a crime by the agent or the handler and was finally given legal protection in 2000 under RIPA. Murder was not permitted and despite the best investigative efforts of journalists galore, Human Rights organisations (both legitimate and utterly biased), the PONI and several historical inquiries and reviews, not one handler has indeed ever been prosecuted, which in itself provides strong evidence that the claims made both here and on a multitude of previous occasions, are baseless. Any evidence to the contrary, has yet to be uncovered and the mantra is wearing distinctly thin now.”

So let’s deal with Jonty’s argument. The agent must carry out “terrorist activity” and “even on occasions to engage in criminal activity on their behalf” in order  to survive. “Murder was not permitted”, says Jonty. I wonder where that is in his rule book?

Prior to RIPA the United Kingdom’s Home Office guidelines on the use of informants was the only policy the  Special Branch  had to follow. The guidelines stated the police should never use an informant to encourage another to commit a crime; police officers should not counsel, incite, or procure the commission of a crime and protecting informants does not grant the informant immunity from arrest or prosecution for the crime they fully participate in.

 

Here is the full text. The typos and strange layout are original.

 

“Our rcfncncc: POL/ 69 1050/1/1

Four rtftrtnct:

HOME OFFICE

Horsefcrry House, Dean Ryie Street, London S.W.i

Telex: 24986

Telephone: 01-834 6655, ext.

 

12th May. L969

 

Dear Chief Constable,

HOME OFFICE CIRCULAR NO, 97/1969

Informants who take part in crime

 

The Home Secretary’s attention has been drawn to judicial comment in the appeal of Cork, Colman and Macro and to criticism of police action in several other cases involving police use of informants who took part in crime . He sought information about police practice from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and through H.M. Inspectors of Constabulary. The Central Conference on 6th March gave an opportunity for a general discussion of practices and principles.

 

2* The Conference fully recognised that informants, properly employed, were

essential to criminal investigation and that, within limits, they ought to be protected. The risks attached to their employment were obvious, however, and safeguards were needed before use was made of an informant taking part in crime.

The Conference appreciated that circumstances varied so widely that it was difficult- to establish rules of general application; but the discussion

 identified the principles listed in the next paragraph.

 

  1. The Conference in general agreed on the following points.

 

(a) No member of a police force, and no police informant, should counsel,

incite or procure the commission of a crime.

 

(b) Where an informant gives the police information about the intention of

others to commit a crime in which they intend that he shall play a part,

his participation should be allowed to continue only. where :-

 

(i) he does not actively engage in planning and committing the crime;

 

(ii) he is intended to play only a minor role; and

 

(iii) his participation is essential to enable the police to frustrate

the principal criminals and to arrest them (albeit for lesser offences

such as attempt or conspiracy to commit the crime, or carrying of

weapons) before injury is done to any person or serious damage to

property.

 

The informant should always be instructed that he must on no account act

as agent provocateur , whether by suggesting to others that they should commit offences or encouraging them to do so, and that if he is found to have done so he will himself be liable to prosecution.

Ac) ,

The Chi- f Constable

(c) The police must never commit themselves to a course which, whether to

protect an informant or otherwise, will constrain them to mislead a court  

in any subsequent proceedings* This must always be regarded as a prime

consideration when deciding whether, and in what manner, an informant may be used and how far, if at all, he is to be allowed to take part in an offence.

If his use in the way envisaged will, or is likely to, result in its being

impossible to protect him without subsequently misleading the court, that must be regarded as a decisive reason for his not being so used or not being

protected.

(d) The need to protect an informant does not justify granting him immunity

from arrest or prosecution for the crime if he fully participates in it    with the requisite intent (still less in respect of any other crime he has committed or may in future commit),

(e) The handling of informants calls for the judgment of an experienced

officer, there must be complete confidence and frankness between

supervising officers and subordinates, and every chief officer of police

 should ensure effective supervision of his detectives; a decision to use a participating

informant should be taken at senior level.

 

(f) Payment to informants from public funds should be supervised by a

Senior officer.

 

(g) Where an informant has been used who has taken part in the commission

of a crime for which others have been arrested, the prosecuting solicitor,

counsel, and (where he is concerned) the Director of Public Prosecutions

should be informed of the fact and of the part that the informant took in the commission of the offence, although, subject to (c) above, not

necessarily of his identity.

(h) Careful instruction should be given to detectives in training.

 

  1. The Home Secretary fully endorses these broad principles. He feels sure that

they are already widely applied in the police service; but in view of recent public

interest he thinks it right to bring them to the notice of all chief officers of police. He asks that you will find means of commending them to everyone who may be concerned in your force. He has instructed H.M. Inspectors of Constabulary to pay particular attention, in the course of their inspections, to the arrangements made in police forces for supervision and training in these matters.

 

Yours sincerely,”

 

Here is what Chief Constable George Hamilton said in a speech in may of this year:

“The problem was much bigger and more complex than the “few bad apples” analogy that has been articulated previously. In the absence of any regulatory framework for managing “agents” police officers were left to set their own standards, they were unaccountable to the law because there was no law. They were unaccountable to their fellow citizens. Policing was being done in a vacuum that allowed unregulated practice. Honest individuals were placed in impossible situations, having to choose between bad and worse. Many people lived; but some people also died as a result of that practice.

The environment in which they worked was chaotic – terrorist attacks were happening on a daily basis, and many lives were being lost. Investigations struggled to keep pace with the rate of murder and serious injury.  The pressure was extreme. In these extraordinarily difficult and dangerous circumstances, the intent with which the vast majority of decisions were made was for the protection of the community. But they were, on many occasions, decisions and judgements that should not have been taken; and, I believe, would not have been taken if there had been a proper regulatory framework in place.

The RUC recognised the almost impossible situation they were in and the Da Silva Review makes reference to the fact that the RUC had asked Government for a framework, guidance or legislation on many occasions. Nothing was forthcoming.”

 

First, he is wrong and completely misleading to suggest there were no rules, secondly he appears to admit that agents were allowed to kill or be involved in killing.

Additionally, Northern Ireland had an interesting piece of legislation. The Criminal Law Act  (Northern Ireland) 1967, Section 5.

 

Penalties for concealing offences etc.

(1)Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, where a person has committed [F1a relevant offence]F1, it shall be the duty of every other person, who knows or believes—

(a)that the offence or some [F2other relevant offence]F2 has been committed; and

(b)that he has information which is likely to secure, or to be of material assistance in securing, the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any person for that offence;

to give that information, within a reasonable time, to a constable and if, without reasonable excuse, he fails to do so he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment according to the gravity of the offence about which he does not give that information, as follows:—

(i)if that offence is one for which the court is required by law to sentence an offender to death or to imprisonment for life or to detention during the pleasure of the Governor of Northern Ireland, he shall be liable to imprisonment for not more than ten years;

(ii)if it is one for which a person (of full age and capacity and not previously convicted) may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of fourteen years, he shall be liable to imprisonment for not more than seven years;

(iii)if it is not one included above but is one for which a person (of full age and capacity and not previously convicted) may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of ten years, he shall be liable to imprisonment for not more than five years;

(iv)in any other case, he shall be liable to imprisonment for not more than three years.

So Jonty is wrong in so many ways.

  • There were rules
  • The rules did not permit the carrying out of continuous crimes by agents
  • Handlers broke the law if they turned a blind eye
  • RIPA did not provide legal protection for criminality by agents

The awful truth is that Special Branch were told that the “ordinary” rules regarding informers or agents did not apply to them.

 

I’m sure Dear Reader , you will look forward to a cogent reply from Jonty, Dr William or Dr Tim or any other member of the RUC who claims to have been at the cutting edge of Special Branch.

 

Next up for the blog will be a demolition of George’s recent speech.

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Jeffrey Donaldson’s new car

Following on from my last blog on this, I have test driven the new model, that Jeffrey recommends.

This is the one that the populace are asked to buy,  by way of a “consultation”.

The draft Bill  is 68 clauses long, and it has 19 schedules. It runs to 120 pages. The section on the HIU has 38 clauses and 16 schedules.

Jeffrey,  is the DUP’s spokesman on victims’ issues, so we might assume that he knows what he is talking about.

Lets look at some of the things he has said in Parliament about the establishment of the HIU.

“At present, in fairness to the victims and families who have waited a long time, the proposal is that the historical investigations unit would pick up where the historical inquiries team left off in chronological order. It would be wrong to go back to the beginning and start again, leaving the people who have already waited many years having to wait even longer.”

What does the draft legislation say? Clause 8; deaths must be investigated in chronological order [unless there are exceptional circumstances] . So nul points for that statement.

“It is important that the Government now proceed with the Stormont House agreement and get on with publishing the draft legislation to give innocent victims and others the opportunity to comment on the proposals, so that at last we can begin the process of implementing what has been agreed and the focus will no longer be solely on what the state did.”

This is a consultation, not an opportunity to comment on proposals. Here is a brief summary of what that means:

(1) consultation must be at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage (2) the proposer must give sufficient reasons for any proposal to permit of intelligent consideration and response, and (3) adequate time must be given for consideration and response and (4) that the product of consultation must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising any statutory proposals.

So its not just as simple as Jeffrey would like it to be. What if citizens reject the proposal? Jeffrey asserts that it has been agreed. So is this consultation a sham and a waste of time?

“We endorse the institutions proposed under the agreement, including a new historical investigations unit that would have full police powers, and would take over the work of the PSNI’s legacy investigation branch and the responsibility for reinvestigating the unsolved murders linked to the troubles in Northern Ireland.”

“Two years ago, we reached an agreement in Stormont about the legacy issues and several new institutions were proposed, including an historical investigations unit that would have full police powers to revisit the unsolved murders. The main impact of the establishment of that unit would be that the murders committed by the terrorists would finally be subjected to proper scrutiny and reinvestigation, and the innocent victims that the hon. Member for South Down referred to would have the opportunity to have their cases re-examined to see whether there was the prospect of prosecution and people being brought to justice.”

It’s important to couple these statements, representing a bright shining JeffreyLand and compare them against reality. Here is what the Bill proposes:

Not all troubles related deaths are to be investigated. A time frame has been specified.

Only those which are currently on the books of the PSNI or the PONI will be considered. So if you relative’s case is not with either of these bodies, generally speaking you will not qualify.

Each of these bodies must certify to the HIU that the death requires further investigation. Many will not be so certified and will therefore not be investigated.

HIU is only  to investigate any of these deaths it takes on  if there is “new evidence”

This means evidence that PSNI/RUC or PONI or HIU  did not know of or knew of but was not aware of the relationship between the evidence and the death.

But. The new evidence is to be assessed for credibility and the evidence is to be taken into account with all other relevant information.

So if the HIU thinks the evidence is weak or it is leaned upon by the Spooks , you case will also fall by the wayside.

The Shawcross test is certainly present in Clause 7, where the HIU must not do anything which might prejudice the national security interests of the UK, put at risk the life or safety of any person. This is the get-out to protect informers, who were present or participated in many of the murders.

The suggested presence of informers is a feature of many troubles murders. Some also may involve participating informants. To date these cases have not been solved because of the State’s activity in hiding these persons. The State will continue to hide them.

There seems to be no mechanism for a relative or interested person to make a fresh complaint to the HIU.

The HIU is forbidden from duplicating work. So the HIU could read the papers from the PSNI or the PONI, decide that it will not duplicate the work, that there is no new evidence and bin the case.

Let’s assume that the HIU considers that maybe there is an agent or informer or some State actor. It has no access to the Spooks’ warehouses. It has to ask for information. If you don’t know what the Spooks have got then it’s hard to ask for it. On the other hand the Spooks are under no obligation to hand over information, no matter how relevant it might be.

This could have been [partially] resolved by giving HIU unlimited access to the warehouses. How likely is that?

Worse, the Secretary of State  and the Department of Justice  can both make regulations limiting the use of secrets.

As a general weapon, the HIU director can bin cases under clause 9 if he feels that they will hinder the completion of his task in five years.

So, how more effective will the HIU be, compared to PSNI/LIB or PONI?

The answer is , not a lot. The Bill is State sponsored sleight of hand. All the faults of the HET , the LIB and the PONI HID are present here. Worse, the State has tightened up the control of State secrets, so informers and agents are better protected than ever. How many cases will be investigated? Nobody knows  but it certainly will not be Jeffrey’s assertion that:

“the innocent victims that the hon. Member for South Down referred to would have the opportunity to have their cases re-examined to see whether there was the prospect of prosecution and people being brought to justice.”

If I were guessing the number would be in the hundreds, not thousands.

Jeffrey, as the DUP victims’ expert,   is knowingly  selling the same old model of car [HET/LIB/HID] , with a new paint job, a radio and go-faster stripes. It still handles badly, takes ages to get anywhere and lets you down at the vital moment.

Don’t buy it!

 

 

 

 

 

An open letter to George Hamilton

Dear George,

I’ve just got around to reading the full text of your speech of 15thMay.

Straightaway, you mention transparency. That doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it’s because since I started communicating with the PSNI in 2002, your force has been opaque.

But let’s leave that for now.

I’m glad that you agree with me that something untoward was happening in policing during the Troubles and that it was not restricted to a few bad apples.

But then I’m puzzled. You say “In the absence of any regulatory framework for managing ‘agents’ police officers were left to set their own standards.”

Then  you say that “there was no law”  a few lines  later you say “ there are [sic] a range of charges that can be brought”

You see, George, the persons who murdered my parents, whose names you can find on my blog, most of them had a handler and some of those handlers were police officers and you know who they were. Those officers knew, if not before , then certainly afterwards, the identities of the perpetrators. They , the police officers, committed most of  the range of offences you enumerated above.

Records: lets dwell on that for a second. Prof Lundy and other academics have commented on those records which you say the Police Ombudsman has “unfettered access to”. No he doesn’t. Are you telling the public that the Ombudsman’s representatives roam the stores at Sprucefield and Seapark at will? What about your gatekeepers? The old SB guys. What about your chief spook, Drew Harris? Don’t they keep tabs on the files? What about the ‘difficult’ files which the Security Service has removed from you and now stores at Loughside?

Although you admit that you know of no legal definition of collusion, you say that it “signals malevolent intent”. What’s your authority for that proposition , George?  I know why you say it. The secret is in the next bit. You want us to think about all the brave officers. It’s not about bravery , George.

You can give me no lessons on what a brave officer looks like.

It’s not long before you return to your old unapologetic self. You say that the police were operating in a vacuum. The police had no “framework, guidance or legislation”

I’ve news for you , George. The Human Rights Act of 1998 simply put on the  British statute book  the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which had long been recognised by British courts and a good read of it by senior officers might have given a hint about how to police. Anyway, allowing an agent to kill doesn’t take  much of a look at a moral compass to know that it is wrong .

Frankly, I got weary of the same old words at this point, George. Why? Because for almost twenty eight years your force and its predecessor and every chief constable has lied to me.

So, on close inspection, I’m as unimpressed by this speech as I have been by all the rest.

Take your own advice, get out of your own comfort zone, be selfless and open the files on James and Ellen Sefton.

Yours sincerely

Peter Sefton

Everyone knows: an appeal

Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour and reputation were clearly common knowledge among the Hollywood set.

It took one woman to speak out. Then many others spoke out and then the ‘set’ admitted that they knew.

So too in Northern Ireland. Everyone knows that the IRA army council runs Sinn Fein. Everyone knows who is on the army council. They can be seen at Stormont any day of the week.

Everyone knows that many of them are MI5 agents, paid for by you and me.

Everyone knows that they were  sometimes allowed, by their British masters, to kill. Police officers , soldiers, civilians and children were their victims. Everyone knows.

But nobody will tell.

Every informer had a state team around him. Several handlers. Minders. Back up. Senior detectives who approved recruitment and payment. MI5 operatives who de-briefed them.

Lots of people who now live comfortably on a pension could unwrap hundreds of cases. The relief to the ageing families would be immense.

The PSNI won’t do it. The HET didn’t do it, [described by an army council member as a sop to the loyalists]. PONI doesn’t deliver and the HIU is a distant and flawed dream.

So I’m appealing to all those retired RUC men and women. All those soldiers who served here, many of whom are outraged at their treatment, compared to informers and on the runs.

As with Harvey, it just needs one to speak out. To tell us of the crimes of Donaldson, Scappaticci, Sean Maguire and Brian Gillen, all paid killers of the state.

Then the rest will open up.

Isn’t it time you salved you conscience?

“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory” Mark Twain.

V and A Consultancy

My consultancy has been launched.

Visit http://www.vandaconsultancy.com

It is aimed at advocacy training for lawyers, McKenzie friends and laymen. It also can provide training for  expert witnesses. It can also give those with legacy issues a voice and the means to pursue truth and justice for their loved ones.

It is based on my experience as a barrister and as a son of two murdered parents.

I’ve now acquired expertise in researching the past and dealing with the inscrutable senior command of the PSNI.

It’s time that everyone in the United Kingdom scrutinised more closely the activities of the State in Northern Ireland since 1969.

I can be contacted via the website